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Back-to-School and Orthodontics: Brace Yourself

It's almost time to get those backpacks ready and head back to school. Parents might be dancing with joy, but if you started orthodontic treatment over the summer, going back to school can be an adjustment. However, with a little planning, the transition can be a breeze.


Traditional braces require more maintenance than clear aligners because they can’t be removed to eat, so packing a few back-to-school dental kits is one great way to keep everything you might need within reach. Pack a few small pencil bags or cosmetic cases with spare elastics, ortho wax, a travel size toothbrush, toothpaste, a pocket mirror, floss and floss threaders, and keep one in your locker, your gym bag, and backpack.

Clear aligners are removed for eating, and if you’re not careful, might get thrown away with your trash. One way to keep track of them is to immediately put them in their case and put it in your backpack or your pocket and not on the lunch table. You could attach a spare case to your book bag just for use at school, so you don’t accidentally throw your clear aligners or retainer away at the end of lunch.

Time to Eat

What to eat for lunch also presents its own set of challenges. Bringing lunch from home takes a little more time in the morning but is one of the simplest ways to make sure everything you eat is “ortho-friendly.” Easy to eat items like pre-cut fruit and bite-size vegetables, sandwiches cut into quarters or a bento-box style lunch with an assortment of crackers, deli meat, and cheese are great options and offer a bit of variety on a seemingly restricted diet. Use soft bread instead of crusty rolls and avoid sticky treats like caramel, taffy and hard candy. If you have a sweet tooth, instead try a soft cookie or pudding. Take a reusable water bottle with you so you won’t need to grab a soft drink or sugary juice from the vending machine.

Navigating the lunch line can be easy too, if you know what to look for. Opt for softer foods if you can, and if you can’t, be sure to cut foods like pizza into smaller, bite-size pieces.

No matter what you choose for lunch, make sure you leave enough time to brush and check your teeth in the mirror before returning to class.

Protect That Smile


It’s a good idea to wear a mouthguard during sports and other activities including gym class. There are special guards available just for patients that wear braces. Designed to protect the lips and cheeks from the brackets and wires as much as they protect the teeth and braces themselves, these guards can prevent injury, spare you an emergency trip to the orthodontist, and save you an unnecessary expense.

Starting a new school year with braces or clear aligners might take some getting used to, but before long it will become just a regular part of the school day.